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Working groups, guilds, and other communities

TTS has a collection of communities to help develop best practices, provide training, explore new ideas,and help solve thorny issues.

These volunteer groups decide how and where to focus their efforts and conversations, in coordination with TTS leadership. Anyone may participate in any of these groups.

Working groups

A working group is a group of people working together to investigate a particular problem and achieve specified goals. They are usually self-organized, and are expected to short-lived and spin up or down depending on organizational needs. The best possible outcome for a working group is to no longer be needed, because it has solved the problem it was formed to solve.

Working groups are usually started by a handful group of people who recognize a problem, then recruit like-minded souls willing to help find a solution. Usually, but not always, the problem is localized to just one part of TTS. Once solved, the working group winds down.

Because working groups are typically trying to solve a problem right now starting a working group is relatively simple: Just be able to articulate the problem you want to solve, then have a chat with your org leadership. Typically, that will be your Chief of Staff, Chief of Practices or Deputy Director, depending on which part of TTS you’re in. They’ll want to talk to you about whether it’s a problem the organization is willing to commit resources to solving right now, and may connect you with other people already working on similar issues.

Most working groups will create a Slack channel to coordinate efforts. These channels should have a wg- prefix. Feel free to jump into any of these channels you see to participate or ask questions.

A sampling of current working groups

TTS Hiring Improving hiring practices and materials for all of TTS.
#wg-tts-hiring
Project Impact Design and test a project/initiative impact assessment that teams would be able to complete at the end of an engagement or between large phases on a project.
#wg-project-health
Onboarding Improving the first 7, 30 and 90 days for new TTS members.
#wg-onboarding
18F Service Offerings Design and test 1-3 new meaningful service offerings that match partner needs and align with our expertise.
#wg-service-offerings

The TTS Working Groups & Guilds Calendar can help you find working group meeting times.

Guilds

Guilds are long-running groups sponsored by the TTS Chief of Staff, and as such are expected to coordinate practices and solve problems across TTS. Because they are cross-TTS structures, their leadership should come from more than one part of TTS and they should provide clear value to a broad cross-section of TTS through training and promotion of best practices in their subject area.

18F provides non-billable hours to guild leads to help them meet those expectations.

Guild Slack channels have a g- before the name. Just as with working groups, you do not need permission to participate. Just jump right in.

The open Slack channel for guild leaders & other practice leaders who wish to join is #guild-practice-leads

Guild meeting times can also be found on the TTS Working Groups & Guilds Calendar.

Because guilds are intended to work across TTS, and because they require substantial and ongoing organizational support and investment, they are coordinated by a group made up of leadership from across TTS. If you’d like to create a new guild, you should start by having a talk with your Chief of Staff, Chief of Practices or Deputy Director (again, depending on which part of TTS you’re in) and they’ll take it to the group for consideration.

Remember, you’re asking for a substantial commitment of organizational resources. At a minimum, they’ll want to know:

Current Guilds

Accessibility We help TTS develop good, accessible products from the start of production in order to provide an excellent user experience for everyone.
Homepage#g-accessibility
Content We promote concise, elegant, user-centered writing. We plan for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.
Homepage#g-content
Research We envision a world where government agencies use research to shape their decision making processes.
Homepage#g-research
Devops Our mission is to ensure great devops for our projects.
#g-devops
Diversity We help make TTS a great place to work for people of all backgrounds.
#g-diversity
Engineering Practices Promoting smart and scalable engineering practices across the frontend and backend.
Homepage#dev
Security & Compliance Our mission is to reduce the security and compliance barrier for all Federal and State government projects.
#g-security-compliance

Guild leadership

Guilds should be led people from different parts of TTS. They should expect to spend a few hours per week on guild leadership, meetings, and preparation. Individual guilds can set their own leadership terms, with the most common being one year.

Guild leadership is recognized by a staff member’s supervisor as a responsibility and they should be reviewed on their performance. However, it is an informal role. There are no administrative supervisory duties attached and there is no GS-level or previous leadership requirement.

Typically guilds follow a lightweight leadership selection process:

  1. The guild asks for nominations via email and Slack posting. Guilds can choose to allow self-nomination only, or accept nominations by other people with confirmation of interest by the nominee. Nominees should have the verbal approval of their supervisor. Written nominations totalling no more than 400 words are recommended; guilds choose nomination questions.
  2. A panel of one-three people made up of guild leadership, other guild members and/or leadership from other guilds conduct brief (no more than 30 minute) interviews of candidates and makes a selection.
  3. A current guild leader announces the new leader, who takes up the position immediately.

18F Communities

18F has developed Communities, with “Community Leads” guiding them. These communities are an experiment in how we can support important practices and focus areas long-term within the tight constraints of a cost-recoverable organization.

These communities should all have Slack channels with a c- prefix. Since their channels are one of their best ways of promoting best practices, you’re encouraged to join any you find interesting.

Current 18F Communities (and their Community Leads) include:

Ethics in Tech Matt Henry & Tiffany Andrews #c-ethics-in-tech
Natural Language Processing & Machine Learning James Tranovich & Tiffany Andrews #c-nlp-ml
Project Resources Nina Mak & Malaika Carpenter #c-project-resources
Partners Network Skippy Williams & Ben Peterson #c-partners-network
Data Princess Ojiaku & Peter Rowland #c-data
Consulting Ann Morey & Amanda Costello #c-consulting

Communities of Practice

A Community of Practice (CoP) provides for government-wide knowledge-sharing. They attract members from across government agencies, and provide a good opportunity for Guilds to connect with others in government and influence best practices beyond TTS.

Digital.gov hosts the Communities of Practice, including the following:

Federal Technology Investment Management We share best practices and lessons learned to improve IT cost transparency across government. Join »
Cloud and Infrastructure Community A community for those who support their agency’s IT modernization efforts, and want to learn about application rationalization, data center optimization, and federal cloud computing. Join »
Federal Leadership and Professional Development Providing federal employees with seminars on leadership, professional development, and strategy. Join »
Open Source A federal government community interested in source code and open source software (OSS). Join »
Virtual and Augmented Reality A collaborative hub for the research and refinement of VR and AR business cases and pilot programs across government. Join »
Blockchain We're interested in exploring distributed ledger technology and its implementation within government. Join »
DevOps The practice of operations and development staff participating in the in the entire service lifecycle to operate rapidly changing resilient systems at scale. Join »
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) We are a group who is working to accelerate robotic process automation (RPA) adoption in the federal government. Join »
Social Media We are dedicated to improving the creation, adoption and evaluation of digital engagement programs and emerging social technologies and strategies for public services. Join »
U.S. Web Design System A community for anyone building federal websites with the U.S. Web Design System (USWDS) or considering it for a future project. Join »
A/B Testing We encourage data-driven decisions and continuous optimization through A/B testing. Join »
IT Accessibility and Section 508 We support people who are working to improve accessibility of information technology. Join »
Results-Oriented Accountability for Grants Our community engages stakeholders around the President’s Management Agenda (PMA), and the Results-Oriented Accountability for Grants Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal. Join »
APIs Working to advance the cause of APIs in the federal government Join »
Agile/Lean Supporting people working with agile/lean methodologies and those who would like to learn more. Join »
OpenGov The Interagency Open Government Community of Practice is where we talk about transparency, open-participation, and collaboration across agencies. Join »
Video Production Pros Video Production Pros brings together passionate storytellers, artists, social gurus, strategists, and video production experts from across the U.S. government. Join »
Plain Language Our goal is to promote the use of plain language for all government communications. Join »
Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science We work across government develop best practices for designing, implementing, and evaluating crowdsourcing and citizen science initiatives. Join »
Customer Experience We are an interagency group of customer experience practitioners. Join »
Open Data A community listserv and working group that unites 900 open data leads at federal agencies, data stewards, and all others in government interested in open data, enterprise data inventory, civic tech, and data-driven government issues. Join »
Multilingual We are working to expand and improve digital content in languages other than English. Join »
User Experience Join other federal user experience practitioners and learn how to make better user-centered products. Join »
Challenge & Prize We encourage public participation in crowdsourcing competitions to find innovative government solutions. Join »
Web Content Managers The Web Content Managers Forum is a community of government employees who share ideas, challenges, lessons learned, and best practices in managing the content of government websites. Join »
MobileGov We work across agencies to implement government-wide solutions for making mobile technologies better. Join »
Government Contact Center Council (G3C) We are an inter-agency group of contact center directors and managers with over 200 members across 55 federal, state and local government agencies. Join »
Artificial Intelligence Supporting and coordinating the use of artificial intelligence technologies in federal agencies. Join »
Manage Your Listserv Subscription GSA supports many communities of practice by hosting Listservs which provide our Digital.gov community with an easy way to collaborate, ask questions, and share information. Join »

Listservs, Google Groups and mailing lists

There are a number of groups that are good for collaborating across government. If any of these topics interest you, consider joining—even if you prefer to lurk. (Consider filtering messages like these so they appear in their own Gmail label.)

Digital Service

About: This listserv is used for cross-team announcements and conversation between USDS HQ, agency digital service teams, 18F etc.

To join: Email listserv@listserv.gsa.gov with no subject and subscribe digitalservice in the body.

GSA Press Clips

About: This is an internal GSA google group we set up to bring together the various press clips that are sent out by the Communications office.

To join: Apply via Google Groups.